Police crackdown on distracted driving with your cell phone

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Distracted driving is one of the biggest safety concerns on the road and New York State is shifting its crackdown into high gear, by implementing Operation Hang Up.

State Police want drivers to keep their eyes on the road. If a driver is focused on a GPS or cell phone in their hand, they can be pulled over. From now until April 15, troopers will be cracking down on distracted driving.

Current laws include strict penalties for distracted drivers:

  • First offense: the minimum fine is $50 and maximum fine increases to $150.
  • Second offense committed within 18 months: the minimum fine is $50 and the maximum fine increases to $200.
  • Third or subsequent offense committed within 18 months: the minimum fine is $50 and the maximum fine increases to $400.

Troopers and other law enforcement officers will be stepping up patrols and using checkpoints to find distracted motorists. They’ll be using marked and unmarked cars. Officials say distracted driving is deadly and will not be tolerated.

Trooper Jason Jones said, “When the vehicle’s in motion, [keep] two hands on the wheel. If you need to dial a phone or send a message or do anything with an electronic device, find a safe place to stop, pull over. Take care of what you need to and then get back on the road.”

“We want people to concentrate on the road to be aware of their surroundings. Distracted driving is just as dangerous as speeding or driving impaired and it continues to be one of the leading contributing factors in motor vehicle accidents,” he explained.

If someone is convicted of a texting while driving, they’ll get five points on their driving record. Starting in November, new and young driver drivers also face stricter penalties. If they’re caught texting while driving for a second time, their license will be suspended for a year.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012, 3,328 people across the country were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an estimated 421,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. Additionally, 10 percent percent of fatal crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes.

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